Relationship with Jesus

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Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. - John 5:23

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Mormon leaders have taken a variety of positions on whether it is appropriate to worship or pray to Jesus Christ. Probably the most defining event that shaped modern LDS belief on the matter was Bruce McConkie's rebuke of BYU professor George Pace for having "advocate[d] gaining a special relationship with Jesus". Mormons refuse to worship Jesus Christ equally with the Father, thus refusing to give the honor and worship and praise that he deserves.


[edit] "We worship Christ" and "We do revere, but do not worship Christ"

"We worship Christ."[1]

Elder Stephen L Richards, Conference Report, October 1940, Afternoon Meeting, p.33

In order that we may better keep the commandments I am persuaded that there must ever be stored in our hearts a deep and abiding love for our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the King of this earth, who is at the head of the Kingdom of God, and whose humble servants we are. We worship Jesus Christ as the divine Son of our Eternal Father. We are committed to the great philosophy of faith which He gave to the world.

Elder Rufus K. Hardy, Conference Report, April 1935, Afternoon Meeting, p.50

That is why we have come here today to worship Jesus Christ and his Father, our God. But beyond that there is just this that makes us a peculiar people: You will recall the angel's voice to the shepherds, and the encouraging words: "Fear not, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord." How even the angels of God spoke concerning this man, Jesus Christ.

W.W. Phelps, Hymn: Adam-ondi-ahman

This earth was once a garden place,

With all her glories common,

And men did live a holy race,

And worship Jesus face to face,

In Adam-ondi-Ahman.

"The greatest and most important of all requirements ... is to believe in Jesus Christ, confess him, seek him, cling to him, make friends with him" (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:339)

The Father and the Son are the objects of all true worship. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; Ex. 34:14; Mosiah 18:25; D. & C. 20:17-19.) No one can worship the Father without also worshiping the Son. "All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." (John 5:23.) It is proper to worship the Father, in the name of the Son, and also to worship the Son. "Believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out." (2 Ne. 25:16, 29.) - Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.848

"We worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." (Easter Message of the First Presidency 1989)

[edit] Bruce McConkie's rebuke of George Pace

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George Pace wrote a book entitled, What It Means to Know Christ[2]. The forward read that people should "center their lives in Christ and . . . develop their own personal relationship with Him."[3] Bruce McConkie, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a devotional entitled, "Our Relationship with the Lord", at BYU on March 2nd, 1982[4]. In it he delivered a public rebuke to the ideas that were being popularized by Pace.


[edit] Pace's apology

"At the BYU devotional of March 2, 1982, Elder Bruce R. McConkie spoke about our proper relationship with the Father and the Son and expressed concern about some misinterpretations which are abroad. In the course of his remarks he characterized my book, What It Means to Know Christ, as unwise because it "advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus." I sincerely desire to be in total harmony with the Church’s teachings and take this means to correct a statement in the book and to clarify what is said there about our proper relationship with the Savior.
"In the book I stress the importance of knowing Christ. If that has given the impression that I give some precedence to the Son over the Father, I am sorry. Christ himself taught us to worship and pray to the Father. We have faith in Christ, but we do not pray to him, and we recognize that what he has done he has done under the direction of the Father, to whom both he and we pay allegiance. In our reverence for the Son we acknowledge that his great atoning sacrifice was for the purpose of reconciling us with the Father. On page 29 of my book I stated that our prayers go through Christ to the Father. That is incorrect doctrine. That Christ is our mediator does not mean that we speak to the Father through him; our prayers go directly to the Father.
"My urging that we develop a relationship with Christ is not intended to suggest that we thereby deemphasize the Father or the Holy Ghost. I might better have urged that we develop a relationship with all the members of the Godhead, because I have not meant to urge any divisive distinction among them. I only mean to emphasize that we need to live more spiritual lives, drawing close to them all. Sometimes we can become so busily engaged in the mechanics of Church work that we fail to develop our spiritual powers. Christ is our example; we should follow him and seek to become like him. Though we should be respectful and avoid an effort at inappropriate familiarity, we need to draw closer to Christ and the Father than we have.
"Elder McConkie warned against excess and noted that it is possible to pray too much and demand too much of God. People who follow this road may consider themselves holier than others or may become despondent because their extravagant expectations for themselves are disappointed. If my teaching the importance of a more intense prayer life than most of us engage in has led people to excess, I regret that. The example of Enos and the statements of many Church leaders remind us that there are times, especially when we are struggling for a testimony or for forgiveness, for extended prayer, but praying is not a substitute for living the gospel and should not become an end in itself.
"I mean to stay in the mainstream of the Church, urging any with whom I have influence to listen to the words of our leaders, to pray earnestly for guidance, and to grow spiritually in our capacity to be obedient to the will and mind of God for us, giving full and appropriate reverence to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
George W. Pace

Kevin Barney of FAIR states

"I was at BYU at the time of the George Pace episode... I thought BRM acted abominably towards Bro. Pace."[6]

[edit] Christian response

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In Revelation 5, Jesus is directly worshiped.

[edit] Notes

  2. Pace, George W. What It Means to Know Christ. Provo, Utah : Council Press, 1981.
  3. "Apostle Attacks Personal Relationship With Christ" in "The Salt Lake City Messenger", July 1982. Volume 48. Available online:
  4. Available online here:
  5. "The evangelical tenor of the 1986 discussions had been foreshadowed by the 1982 revision to The Uniform System for Teaching Families. That revision rearranged the discussions so that what had been the sixth discussion, 'Our Relationship to Christ,' became the first. Retitled 'Our Acceptance of Christ,' this discussion covered the following principles: the true church bears Christ’s name; Christ is creator, redeemer, and judge; all people must repent and be baptized to make Christ’s atonement operative in their lives. The retitling of the discussion (from 'Relationship' to 'Acceptance') may have been a response to Bruce R. McConkie’s public condemnations, in 1981 and early 1982, of what he perceived as George W. Pace’s overly evangelical What It Means to Know Christ. Fearing a drift toward “sectarian” Christianity, McConkie declared that Latter-day Saints 'should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ.' ... I interpret the Pace-McConkie controversy as symptomatic of tensions produced within the LDS community by the mounting shift toward evangelical discourse." - John-Charles Duffy, "The New Missionary discussions and the Future of Correlation". Sunstone, September 2005, 28-46. Available online here.

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